Nududu and Nudada

Hello from a too-long Internet dry spell! ANYWAY, it’s time for nududu and nudada! That’d be “food” and “cooking” for those unversed in Ewe. And they also happen to be a couple of the things people have been curious about. . .

So, what am I eating? Depends where I am. Street food in the Ghanaian capital of Accra is plentiful and tasty. My personal favourites have been from either the jollof or rice & beans stands. You start with either jollof rice (red from a tomato-based sauce) or plain white rice with beans, then go for toppings. Those are fun:

            – hot pepper paste – spicy! But a bit is necessary, since it’s flavourful. And sacrilege to Ghanaians if you go without.

            – gari – almost like breadcrumbs, though it apparently comes from the inside of the cassava plant

            – red (palm?) oil

            – stew – also red, tomato based, could contain anything in regards to meat

            – fried plaintains (yum yum)  

            – pasta salad – just like at home

            – “sausages” – hot dogs, for the most part nicely pan-fried

            – chicken drumsticks

            – a whole dried-out fish (still haven’t figured out quite how this is eaten)

And you order everything but the condiments by monetary value. Such as: “I’ll get 50 pesewas rice, 50 pesawas beans, a little pepper, gari, oil, 1 Cedi fried plantains, 50 pesawas pasta salad, 1 Cedi sausages, please”. Tons of food for C3.50, or about $1.75.

What am I not eating? Well, I can’t get into the staple of banku, or its relative kenkey. From what I understand, they are both made with corn (maize) mashed into flour, and then wetted into a dough. From here kenkey gets wrapped in leaves, banku stays bare, and they both get dropped in water and boiled. To me, either tastes a bit like uncooked dough with a slight tang of corn. It’s eaten as an alternative carb to rice. I can’t help thinking it would be much nicer if they put it in the oven for a while (corn bread anyone?).

That said, there is some very tasty bread out here. The Catering class at the Centre out here in Adidome regularly bakes up “butter bread” – like our white bread, and “sweet bread” – like our white bread, but, yep, it’s sweet. Very nice with tea. At my last-Thursday visit to catering, I stayed with the bread crew from start to finish and rolled some dough myself.

Anyway, the Centre provides 3 meals a day to the students, and also to me. If I want. But I do my own breakfast with simple items so I don’t have to deal with anybody bringing my meal over in the mornings. My favourite meals at the centre have been when the stew (see below) came with eggs in it instead of meat, and also the surprisingly flavourful beans with gari. But still, with the removal of banku or kenkey from my personal menu, I was mainly left with rice. And stew. Lots of stew.

ImageIt might be a regional thing, but there sure is a lot of it here by the Volta River. It’s usually a chunky tomato-based stew (photo above!) with large hunks of a thick grey meat that I couldn’t recognize for quite some time. It’s fish, of course! I was told “We call it tuna”. Which is a bit… fishy? (Sorry, couldn’t help myself #fishjokeoftheday). But regardless, I’m not sure if it’s the same tuna I know or not. But it’s… not what I really want for two meals a day. SO: I’m making my own dinners from here on out.

For breakfast I do either butter bread or sweet bread, plus tea or Milo (a hot choco-malty drink like Ovaltine, but with more oomph to get me through a snackless morning), and either yogurt collected from a bigger supermarket in the capital or fresh local fruit. Dairy is a rarity out here, and it seems to be more common to use a tin of condensed milk for your tea. I got a carton of shelf-stable German imported milk and I am carefully hoarding a chunk of cheese. The local fruit is primarily bananas, oranges, and pineapples, with papayas (paw-paws here, even in English) and mangoes coming into season. In December, the heavily laden mango trees all over campus will be ripe!

 The main veggies at the local market now seem to be: tomatoes, little red onions, okra, plantains, and huge woody yams with white insides. And if you’re lucky some carrots, cabbages, and sweet potatoes. (An aside: cauliflower at the Accra supermarket was about $12 for a small piece!). Plus there’s tons of whole dried-out fish (still don’t get how they’re eaten), and live crabs and shellfish. And vendors with little cans/bottles/bags of things like spices, tomato paste, cooking oil, and noodles. I also have seemingly unlimited access to fresh eggs, as there is a henhouse on the Centre grounds. Hm…

I also have one use-able burner and a microwave. So far on my dinner menu, most of which are eaten with fresh fruit:

            – macaroni and cheese

            – macaroni and ketchup (yep…)

            – spaghetti and tomato paste

            – toad in the hole (fried eggs & bread – my favourite right now, and oh-so-local)          

            – meatless “Irish stew” (okay, carrots, potatoes, and onions, cooked in a stew-like fashion)        

            – oatmeal 

            – grilled cheese sandwich

 And… that’s about it. Limited menu. But creative dinner suggestions welcome! 

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2 thoughts on “Nududu and Nudada

  1. Teresa Pamatat

    Hey Jess!

    So glad to hear you’re back on-line.

    We just missed you for the Skype session last Sunday. I hear you are awakened early L

    Omelets perhaps with the vegetable and sausages or creative other ingredients?

    Were you able to interpret my Ewe word to you in my last communiqué?

    Do you have enough free time, too much or not enough and what is your favourite pastime there?

    Teresa Pamatat

    KNOT SMALL

    REALTOR ®

    Re/Max Legacy Realty Inc.

    905-270-8840

    http://www.TeresaPamatat.com

    teresa@teresapamatat.com

    • traveljess

      Hello Trese! Sorry about missing you, and yes quite early days here. I might not actually get out of bed until 7:15 or 7:30, but there are often folks sweeping outside my window at 5am or so.. 😉 An omelette is a grand idea, and though there are no “sausages” here, it might be a good idea to add a pack to the shopping list next time someone goes into the capital! And I knew your “Mawu” word certainly – as well as Yesu and gbedodora (which means prayer), since I go to the church service here on Sundays. And hm, free time. Both lots and not that much? I work weekdays 8:30-4, but I’m also just out here on the very rural campus always involved in things. I have evenings to myself, which are just basically spent making dinner & showering, plus reading, writing, or Internet-ing if I’m lucky. It gets dark (and mosquito-y) at 6pm, so there’s not much time for wandering about. Weekends I’m off unless there are community meetings, but since I’m on the very rural campus without transportation, there isn’t too much to do. I can hop on the back of a moto to get into Adidome (small town), but Saturdays are relatively quiet because everyone is at funerals and Sundays everything is closed. Tuesdays and Fridays are market days, so once a week at least I do head there! There’s a larger town about a 25 minute drive away, but motos are not recommended due to safety (of the driving and of the potential for them robbing me en route…). Sometimes my supervisor or others might pick me up and take me places though. Otherwise I’m again reading, writing, Internet-ing, plus wandering the grounds or down by the Volta River, visiting with or practicing Ewe with the women, attending the Saturday night “entertainment” or Sunday church, or doing laundry by hand. Hope things are well with you!

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